- Air France is retiring its Airbus A380 fleet as the coronavirus pandemic saw a drop in passengers that makes the aircraft impractical.
- I flew Air France on the aircraft in economy class from Los Angeles to Paris in November 2018.
- I found the 516-seat jet to be incredibly comfortable and spacious with the Air France service impeccably complementing the feat of engineering that is the Airbus A380.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Air France has announced the immediate retirement of its Airbus A380 fleet as it no longer sees the demand for the 500-seat aircraft amid a slow return to normal for an industry plagued by the coronavirus pandemic.
The abrupt retirement ended an 11-year run between the French carrier and Airbus’ towering creation that replaced the Boeing 747 as the world’s largest passenger plane when it first took flight in 2005. While once the flagship of the European manufacturer, the A380’s success has been slow-going, with only a handful of major airlines taking on orders for the type.
Initially intended to increase capacity between major cities and, in turn, reduce the number of frequencies that airlines would need to fly, the arrival of efficient next-generation aircraft like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner quickly made the A380 obsolete. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, whose airline operates both the A380 and 787, noted that two Dreamliner flights could be flown cheaper than one A380 flight.
The French flag carrier itself only purchased 10 of the type and later focused more on the new twin-engine next-generation aircraft from Boeing and Airbus. Less than two years before its retirement, in 2018, I flew on an Air France A380 from Los Angeles to Paris, my first and likely last time on the Super Jumbo.
Here’s what it was like to fly on an